H O W T O C R E A T E A B A R I N G
W I T N E S S P H O T O !
For information on creating a press release for your action, click here.
First of all, if you arenít the organizer type, call your friends to find the perfect person.
Next, find a photographer and discuss the following:
The Staging: Decide how you want to get the message across to as wide an audience as possible. Clothed or naked? Lying down or standing up? Men and women? Aerial shot, hillside or from a ladder or window? Or maybe, clothed in your professional uniforms - nurses or physicians, etc. Spell any word and join the national "Spelling Bee".
Get together a core group of people with organizational skills and e-mail lists of friends. Start a telephone tree and an e-mail tree, in which each person calls five or so people, each of the five calls five more people and on it goes. We had fifty women ready to go within a day. If a person says, "Oh, I couldnít do that," be inclusive - invite her/him to help with clothes and set-up at the shoot.
If youíre going to do a shoot with both men and women, be sure to make it clear to everyone. Some people are very nervous about disrobing in front of the opposite sex. I think the number of participants grows when itís a one-sex shoot, but if you can get women and men together, go for it!
OUR GREATEST FEAR was not having enough women. It hasnít been a problem, but worst case scenario, you would have only ten participants - those ten could spell an A, the same ten could spell B, and so on - glue them all together digitally with Photo-Shop.
Speed is of the essence in the phone tree. You donít want word to leak out to too many people and stand the risk of having onlookers. Itís a balancing act getting as many participants together as possible without alerting the whole community. Donít tell the press beforehand, unless you want to be photographed be in the act of undressing, etc.
If you are going to do a naked shoot, tell the participants to wear loose clothing, and to bring a plastic bag for clothes and shoes. Two of our women wore bathrobes, and were undressed and dressed in seconds, while in the rain I struggled with damp tights!
Decide on a location. Could be indoors or outdoors. If itís outdoors, an overcast day is ideal. Long winter shadows are a problem for photographers. We did it on a showery day - very invigorating! Check the weather and think about where the sun will be. Indoors is more controllable and will be easier to find in an urban situation.
Donít forget about parking for this many people. If we do another shoot, parking will be a priority, which is partly why weíre looking at a more remote location. If we were to do it at the original location with the hundreds of people who wish to attend, weíd want to inform the police.
Decide whether or not you want to invite the local press. Itís best to tell them they cannot photograph the participants undressing, dressing or nude but they can interview before or after.
Nuts & Bolts:
Photographer: It is best if your photographer has experience with group shots. It takes mathematical talent (if on flat land) to be able to arrange the participants in the proper perspective in order to read the letters.
Technical: Our first shot was taken on flat ground with 45 women on a baseball field. Three of us went there the day before to figure out how large the letters would be with various numbers of participants. We took a fifteen-foot ladder and took Polaroids of the area with a couple of women to give scale to the shot. If too few women had turned up, we could have done one letter at a time. If 100 women had turned up the letters would have been yea high, yea thick, etc.
Be sure you have a written agreement on how/if the photographer is being compensated.
We encourage people of all races, colors, and sexual orientations to participate in Baring Witness actions.
Photos for Baring Witness:
We would love to have a copy of your photo and press release to post on Baring Witness.org. Our preference on photos: 100 KB or less, in .JPG format. Don't forget to include a photo credit, location and participant details, and whatever message you have for the world.
LEGAL: PLEASE TAKE THE FOLLOWING LEGAL ADVICE WITH A GRAIN OF SALT. I AM NOT A LAWYER, IíM AN ARTIST. CHECK EVERYTHING OUT YOURSELF.
Possible optional agreements:
1. The photographer holds the copyright on the photo. It is possible for the photographer to assign the copyright to someone else, like your non-profit organization. That would mean the photographer gives up the copyright of the photo.
2. It is also possible to obtain a license from the photographer to use the photo. If you want as much freedom as possible to use the image, you should try for a ROYALTY-FREE, PERPETUAL, UNRESTRICTED LICENSE that allows you to use the image without paying royalties to the photographer. Whatever agreement you come to, Iím sorry to say that it must be put in writing and in very precise legalese. If youíre very lucky, a verbal agreement might work, but attitudes tend to change if money gets involved.
3. Another option would be a "work for hire" contract, which gives the organizers the rights to the photo as employers of a photographer hired to do one job. A "work for hire" contract may not be binding under copyright law, but it might at least show intent.
Hereís a work for hire agreement I found.
PHOTOGRAPHIC WORK-FOR-HIRE AGREEMENT
AGREEMENT made this _______ day of ____________, 200_, by and between the undersigned PHOTOGRAPHER and the undersigned CLIENT.
This Agreement is entered into in the City of ________and County of _______________,
State of __________ and is guided by and governed by the laws of that state.
The undersigned parties hereby agree that all rights, copyrights, titles and interest in any photographs taken by photographer, on behalf of Client belong solely and exclusively to the Owner free from any claims whatsoever by the Photographer.
The enticement and consideration for this Agreement is the promise by the Client to pay the Photographer the amount of $______________. This is a one-time compensation for Photographer's services (sometimes known as a work-for-hire) and Photographer understands that this will comprise Photographer's complete and sole payment.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF we have entered into this written contract as of the date above written.
MODEL RELEASE FORM: Very important, IF you're going to do a nude shot. All the pro photographers we've talked to say they don't bother with model releases if the people are clothed. Again, I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY, NOR DO I PLAY ONE ON TV, SO CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL PROS. The model release form all our women signed was apparently not legally sufficient to save our photographer from possible liability if any one of the women had second thoughts about being seen publicly in the buff! You might want to include language about what you specifically intend to do with the image. Our model release form contained the phrase "all profits will be donated to the peace movement". Part of the reason our women were prepared to pose nude was that they knew they were not going to be commercially exploited.
You will find model release forms here:
The long forms are pretty intimidating, so use a short form as the basis for your release. To save time and paper, add several lines at the bottom of each release, for multiple signings. You need their contacts too - e-mail, phone etc.
The form will ease your photographerís mind and yours, and save a lot of time as well. You might want to insert some verbiage to ensure that the women know their image will be on the Web, and if theyíre nervous about being identified in full frontal nudity, they should pose in whatever position makes them feel most protected and comfortable. Let them know they have the option of covering whatever part of their bodies they are sensitive about. Some of our women simply turned over on their stomachs, others hid their faces, some covered strategic parts. Whatever they are comfortable with - you donít want second thoughts later. Liability is an unfortunate fact of American life.
The Shoot: The most exciting time of all! When the women are all gathered, have them lie out in the shape of the letters in the area in front of the camera with their clothes on.. The photographer may have to be on a tall ladder (ours was fifteen feet tall, with the camera on a fifteen-foot tripod), in a window, or you may have to rent a piece of equipment like a scissor lift or cherry-picker.
When we scouted the location for the NO WAR shoot, we looked at a sloping site. The slope, about 45 degrees, was perfect for the women to lie on while the photographer set up on a stock pond dam, which was slightly higher. That enabled the photographer to do the shot without teetering on a ladder, and without having to resort to a cherry-picker. The best bet for urban locations is a second or third floor window.
Wherever the shoot takes place, the women should be arranged, with their clothes on, in the letters so that they fit in the viewfinder. The letters may have to be Ďthickenedí in the parts furthest from the camera, in order to get the balance of the letter right. You can see in our photo that there are more women in the upper parts of the "A", for example, and the vertical part of the "E".
When everything looks good to the photographer, the helpers run in and take the clothes from the women and take them out of the shot. This will take some organizing to keep the clothes separate. Donít let anyone wander off at this undressing stage - it will mean more time in the nude in the open, which is uncomfortable for most women.
Our photographer took four shots, which took about 15 seconds per shot, lying still. When the shots are taken, itís time to run for your clothes! Itís best to have an agreed place for the women to pick up any lost articles. Three or four of our women lost their glasses at the location, and we set up a Lost & Found at a friendís store in town.
Photographs: GO WITH DIGITAL! The time and expense of developing and converting analog images into web-ready digital images is a drain of resources. Traditional photographers like to have negatives they can turn into art-quality prints. But digital is so flexible that you can do almost anything with it.
Our first photographer captured the image on film. The developed photograph was then put through a professional drum scanner to convert it to digital format. At this stage, you need to think about the resolution of the image. We were very cautious about the resolution of the digital image, and when it appeared in our local paper the Point Reyes Light, it was "screened", which made the women harder to identify, while preserving the "look" of letters made of womenís bodies.
Since the idea was to get the image out to the world, we put a 72 dots-per-inch (dpi) JPEG image on the web, about five inches wide. That way, if the image is blown up, it just gets blurrier. The world of the Web is full of people looking for ways to exploit nudity, and we didnít want one of our women to see her body cut out from the main picture and broadcast in huge format to the world.
We kept to the 72 dpi format for all releases of the first image, even to the press, who prefer higher resolutions. But since they ran the photo small, if at all, it worked out fine. The Point Reyes Light ran a 150 dpi image, which is perfect for print media, but with the screening, the definition was perfectly good.
The higher resolution digital images and the original photograph are suitable for high-quality prints and posters. When you get up to 300 dpi and more, in a large format, you can blow the image up and still be able to count freckles!! The original print can be scanned into any digital resolution. Be careful what you do with images this clear, unless you have the explicit consent of every woman in the photograph. Itís a thin line between shock-activism and exploitation.
VIDEO: Please, if possible, have someone there to video the set-up and group shots of the participants, not necessarily the nudity. We hope to put video clips together later for a documentary. Then you can hang on to the video until we ask for it. You'll have complete control over what gets shown.
Media: Now the work begins! We were totally unprepared for the scale of the interest this image created. Once the AP wire got the story, it was out to major papers, radio and TV news throughout the country. We sent press releases to major newspapers and all the newswires. Most of them did not run the photo of course. But when CBS Sunday Morning News ran it, it set a precedent for the rest of the media.
Who knows what coverage your efforts will get? Start locally with your dailies and weeklies. Get on local TV and radio if possible. At this moment, we are twelve weeks into this, and we are getting requests for interviews from Europe, Asia, Australia, plus national and local media. They are now asking us, "Whatís next?" Well, youíre next!
Police: We've received a few inquiries about the possibility of arrest for doing nude actions. We haven't heard of anyone having any trouble. The final date of actions in a city should be announced at short notice to avoid leaks outside your group. If you set up the image fully-clothed and then take off your clothes in position, you should only be naked for a few minutes. And then there's this heartening news clip from Florida:
Court Stops Florida From Blocking Nude Anti-War Activists
Associated Press, February 14, 2003
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A federal court judge has barred the State of Florida from trying to block plans by a group of women to gather in a state park, strip nude and form a peace symbol with their bodies in protest of a U.S. war on Iraq.
U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks wrote an eleven-page order stating that "nude overtly political speech in the form of a 'living nude peace symbol' is expressive conduct well within the ambit of the First Amendment."
Middlebrooks also ruled, however, that the state could erect signs to notify the public that the protest would be taking place, or it could put screens around the demonstrators.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida went to court in defense of a naturist and a videographer who planned to record the event.
The demonstration is taking place this morning at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park on Singer Island, north of West Palm Beach.
© Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
Our victory was in getting the word PEACE out to as many people as we have, to get it imprinted on psyches worldwide, and to spread the message that there are still peace-loving people in this country who are willing to do whatever they can for the cause of Peace.
By the way, while Baring Witness wants to see the movement grow under that name, thereís no requirement to do so. Call yourselves anything you want, but get out there and show the world how you feel.
Good Luck with your PEACE action!
Donna Sheehan & Baring Witness
Tax-deductible donations to Baring Witness, P.O. Box 753, Marshall, CA 94940